You've spent the time to crunch numbers, check prices and find the phone and plan that fits into your budget.

Everything is going great. No need to eat only rice and beans this month.

Then the first bill rolls in...

What are all these added activation and SIM fees?

Much like bag fees at the airport, activation and SIM fees are often part of the standard (yet unmentioned) cost of phone service.

To make matters worse, they don't just pop up when you start service. If you upgrade phones or add a line to your plan, they're likely to show up on your bill yet again.

While you can sometimes ask your service provide to waive these fees, most won't... you're simply stuck paying.

But what are these fees exactly? 

Activation Fees

Most service providers claim the activation fee covers creating an account, setting up the various features and configuring your phone for accessing their network.

They typically charge between $10 and $45 per device you add to your plan.

Yes... these fees often apply to data-enabled tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots and other "non-phone" devices on your account as well. 

Essentially, you have to pay to become a customer.

Which seems outrageous if you ask us.

Fortunately, costs vary between service providers. Some don't charge at all. So you can possibly avoid this charge if you shop around.

And since they're usually charged per device, avoiding activation fees can save a ton of money--especially if you're on a family or multi-line plan.

SIM Card Costs
This charge is for providing and programming a SIM card to use in your phone.

As a SIM card is a key element of your mobile phone service, no SIM card often means no service.

These little plastic chips only cost a couple bucks each in bulk. It's not like they're expensive new technology.

So wouldn't it make sense to just include them in the cost of service? 

We think so... But some carriers still find a way to charge for it.

To further complicate matters, some carriers charge both fees.

Others have made big announcements that they're cancelling one type of fee only to raise the price of the other by the same amount... if not more.

The bottom line is, you need to keep these costs in mind when comparing cell phone companies.

To help keep track of the various SIM and Activation Fees, we've put together a chart that compares all the major carriers for you without having to jump between an endless list of sites!

CarrierActivation FeesSIM Card Prices

Bell Mobility

$25 for phones, tablets, turbo sticks and mobile Internet devices

No SIM charges

More info at Bell Mobility

Bell MTS

$40 activation fee

$10 for SIM kits More info at BellMTS

Chatr

No activation fees

$10 for SIM kits

More info at Chatr

Cityfone

$25 activation fee
Free SIM kits with Bring Your Own Phone plan activation More info at Cityfone

Eastlink

No activation fee

$10 SIM fee More info at Eastlink  

Fido

$25 fee for new activations and device upgrades

Fee waived if completely online
Free SIM included with plan selection More info at Fido

Freedom Mobile

No activation fees
$10 for SIM kits More info at Freedom Mobile

Koodo Mobile

No activation fees
$10 for Monthly SIM kits

$25 for Prepaid SIM kits
More info at Koodo Mobile

PC Mobile

No activation fees
$10 for SIM kits More info at PC Mobile

Petro-Canada

No activation fees
$10 for SIM kits More info at Petro-Canada

Primus

$25 activation fee

Fee waived for Bring Your Own Phone plans

Free SIM kits with Bring Your Own Phone Plans

More Info at Primus

Public Mobile

No activation fees
$10 for SIM kits More info at Public Mobile

Roam Mobility

No activation fees
$9.95 for 1 SIM kit

$14.95 for 2 SIM kits
More info at Roam Mobility

Rogers

$25 "Connection" fee

$10 SIM kits

More info at Rogers

(Click "Full Details" at the bottom of the page)

SaskTel

$25 activation fee

$10 SIM kits More info at SaskTel

SpeakOut

No activation fees
$10 SIM kits More info at SpeakOut

Telus

No activation fee

$35 device setup fee if switching devices without renewing a contract
$15 for LTE SIM kits

$20 for LTE with NFC SIM kits
More info at Telus

Videotron

$10 activation fee
$5 SIM kits available through customer support More info at Videotron

Virgin Mobile

$25 "Connection" charge for new devices and upgrades
Free Monthly plan SIM kits

$10 Prepaid SIM kits
More info at Virgin Mobile


As the table shows, avoiding both fees is nearly impossible. But by choosing the right service provider, you can reduce your costs.

Many providers also waive or reduce fees if you complete your purchase and setup online. So be sure to check the carrier website before heading down to your local store.

We hope this chart helps save you money!


Note: We do our best to keep this page current, but fees are subject to change. We'd appreciate you letting us know if you spot any errors. Always confirm any addition fees with your carrier prior to starting a new line of service or making changes to an existing plan to avoid an unexpected expenses.